How to Avoid the HVAC Zeros (and Find Your Hero)
There’s a host of occupations that have gotten a bad rap over the years. Often stereotyped as unscrupulous or shady, if you thought about it for a second you could probably call to mind a few jobs with bad reputations: auto mechanics, lawyers, used-car salesman, politicians. Some even put HVAC contractors in this bunch. Obviously, there are “bad apples” in every industry, across every job demographic. And as much as we hate to admit it, there are some chiselers in the HVAC field who want nothing more than to separate a customer from their cash. They are few and far between but they are around. Here are some simple steps to help you avoid falling prey to an HVAC repair swindle.
“License and registration, please.” - Make sure the contractor in question is licensed, bonded and insured (liability & workman’s compensation.) You’ll know they have complied with local and state regulations and completed the requisite training and certification protocol. And should someone get injured in your home, or some accidental demolition occurs, you can rest assured knowing that you won’t be on the receiving end of a legal summons.
“Uhmm, yah, so what’s your Yelp rating?” Rating services are great and there are a bunch of them out there that allow homeowners to rate and review HVAC technicians. Yelp is a good place to start. Angie’s List is very thorough but it will cost you to join (though there are some cost-free exceptions.) A website called High Performance HVAC also provides thorough consumer reviews.
Get It in Writing! - Always be sure you get a written estimate before any work begins. This estimate should detail the scope of work, costs included, and the estimated date(s) to complete the project. Should something go awry, or a repairman leaves a job half-done, you have documentation to submit to the company’s management, or possibly in a court of law.
Quick Fix, Long-term Headache - If you’re confronted by a technician who laments, “This is really, really bad! We’re gonna need to fix this ASAP.” Take heed. An anxious customer is an easily manipulated customer. Scare tactics like these or dire warnings concerning the safety of occupants warrant a second opinion. Don’t necessarily disregard the repairman's advice, but discontinue system use and consult another company for their input. Trust your gut on this one - it’s OK to be skeptical of contractors who seem inclined to rush things. A reputable serviceman is happy to explain and educate the homeowner about HVAC problems and remedies.
Used Parts? Use Sense. - A tech lets you know that a big, integral part of your HVAC is kaput. Said contractor claims that he just happens to have the exact replacement part - albeit used - sitting in his truck outside and he can fix your problem on-the-double. What a stroke of good luck for you, right? Well, not really. Never replace important components of your system with used versions. The inherent inefficiency that comes with a used part will put undue strain on other system parts. Oftentimes, these replacements won’t last a calendar month
The best way to protect yourself is to team up with a company that has been around for years, is endorsed by your trusted friends and family, and has favorable reviews online or in print. And remember to trust your gut.
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